THE ROBOT LINE MARKER CONTINUES TO IMPROVE WITH RENEWED COATINGS.
TinyLineMarker Sport works more efficiently with high performance paint Expo-Line
Robotic painters are being further developed all the time, as shown by the recent introduction of the TinyLineMarker Sport. But paint manufacturers are not sitting still either. This year Expo-Line is launching three new types of performance paint, especially suitable for robotic line marking. In this way the technology is optimized even further.
TinyLineMarker robots are now on the road in a number of large cities in the Netherlands, including Amsterdam, Utrecht and Rotterdam. This is the original Pro version. Last autumn the Danish manufacturer introduced the TinyLineMarker Sport, a lighter and simpler robot, which is easier to operate and also a lot cheaper than the Pro. Expo-Line is a partner and exclusive importer of TinyLineMarker in the Benelux and France. The company has now delivered several examples of the Sport-lining robot, says director Raf Bogaerts. 'We already delivered the first Sport robots in France at the end of 2020 and in 2021 the counter there will already be nine. There is also increasing interest in Belgium and the Netherlands, but Covid remains a difficulty. We already have a number of confirmed deliveries here too, but as long as there is no soccer, that moment is often postponed.'
Feedback from French venues where the TinyLineMarker Sport is already running is positive for Expo-Line. According to Bogaerts, there are a number of features that make the Sport variant attractive. 'To start with, the Sport is a lightweight robot. Furthermore, it works very simply. For the user there is a very intuitive software package on it, which can be controlled with the tablet. Already after a training of one hour the user can use the robot. Because it weighs little, it can be used very flexibly. It is easy to take it anywhere. In France we have delivered the Sport-robot to a number of municipalities. There it is used at various sports parks.'
When launching the Sport, TinyLineMarker announced that this model was aimed at sports clubs, which have fewer and fewer volunteers, but in France it is also being used by local authorities. Bogaerts: "The main difference between the Pro and the Sport is the investment. The TinyLineMarker costs about 26,000 euros. The price of the TinyLineMarker Sport is between 12,000 and 15,000 euros, depending on the packages you install on it. So that's a completely different amount, which makes the robot a lot more accessible. In France there are still quite a few municipalities that manage their own sports parks and so the lines are done by municipal staff. That takes time and costs staff. Contrast that with the robot, which costs 15,000 euros under the proviso, and it's easy to do the math.
Less paint needed
In order to get the robotic liners to perform optimally, Expo-Line has even developed a special paint for robots. Previously, the Belgian company came up with ready-to-use paint, Expo-Line Direct, and low-consumption paint. Those two properties were combined to develop the new series of high performance paints, Bogaerts explains. 'Most types of paint go clumpy at the bottom of the can after a while. If that happens to robots, you cannot line autonomously and you still lose time. That is not a step forward: with robots you need certainty. That is why at Expo-Line we have developed a homogeneous product, a paint that is very fine. This paint has been developed specifically for robots.' With the paint, no decanting occurs. So even if the can has been in the storage cabinet for a number of months to two years, it can be put on the robot without shaking. 'That provides enormous ease of use,' says Bogaerts.
Because the robot weighs little, it can be used very flexibly'.
The new series of paints is marketed as Expo-Line's high performance line paint. It comes in three variants: standard, high and ultra performance. Bogaerts: 'We were able to further increase the quality of the product and therefore reduce the volume of paint. With hand painting you often need 10 to 12 liters of paint per field. We have incorporated the technology of our low-consumption paint. With this we can reduce the volume of paint for one field to 7 liters, with ultra performance even to 3 liters, depending on the result you want. That is a huge step forward. For clubs it saves on transport, but also on keeping stock.
Expo-Line has long been known for its use of sustainable packaging. Already in 2002 the company switched to environmentally friendly systems for the storage of lining paint. Clubs that do not have the space to store their entire stock of paint are supplied with the paint in plastic jerry cans of 10 to 20 liters. When the cans are empty, they are taken back by Expo-Line. Reusable cans are rinsed and reused; the rest go to a processor. 'So essentially we have no waste,' says Bogaerts. 'We have been working on this since 2002, but we are also going for sustainability in the future. And in doing so, we are betting on a future with robots.'
With the robot technology, paint without decanting and the intake of jugs, Expo-Line offers a total concept for paint finishing. This is catching on, notes Bogaerts. In France there are fairly large sports complexes, where local authorities sometimes have to line 30 to 40 fields. That's a lot of paint cans. Suppose you had to transport them all to the container, it would add up quickly. With us, customers have no waste, and we're the only one offering this. That's part of our success.'
Thus both the machine manufacturer and the paint producers continue to develop. Expo-Line also already has the first order for the Sport robot in the Netherlands. Bogaerts expects this technology to be further perfected over the coming years. We have been working on robots for four years now and we are already ready for a new generation of robots: the Sport. We are evolving more and more. In 2021 we want to further launch the Sport robot. In the meantime, we are looking at the next development. Depending on the influence of corona, this year and in 2022, I expect that we will come up with the next development in this field soon. We have embarked on the path of robotic lineation and continue to develop in it. There is certainly still progress to be made with the robots. That is a challenge, but that is precisely what keeps our work so fascinating.'